Two years ago, I decided to participate in CAMH's One Brave Night and I continue to participate to this day.
I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Obsessive Compusilve Disorder when I was nine years old. I had excessive anxiety and worry about events that "typical" children don't even think of. Literally, I was the child who had a personal emergency pack in case there was a house fire! Then, when I was fifteen I was diagnosed with Major Depression. At the time, I was excessively sad and cried, privately, for hours until I was able to sleep (there were other symptoms as well). In all, I felt hopeless. Adolescence is challenging enough already, isn't it? Who needs a mental illness, or two, or three?!
I managed as I could until I was twenty-seven. At that point, my symptoms were severe and serious. So, I admitted myself into the Emergency Department at CAMH. It was there that I received the care that I needed.
I'm not suggesting that the program that I entered into is the only helpful program, or that CAMH itself is the only helpful institution, available for those with mental illness. Simply, it was the most helpful program for me. I wasn't "cured" after my time in the WIU program. But, the care that I received and the tools that I received are why I am able to manage to this day.
Of course, there continues to be challenges. In fact, this past summer, I entered another program in order to help maintain my symptoms. All this is to say that I participate in One Brave Night for a few reasons:
One: I want to give back to an organization that helped me to get my life back.
Two: I want to be able to contribute, even in a small way, to improved access to care. I only received care at CAMH the first time because I had suicidal ideations. Otherwise, I would have been placed on a wait list as I had been with all the other organizations that I had contacted. I recognize my privilege, so if it was that challenging for me to access care, how challenging must it be for those who are more disenfranchised than I?
Three: I want to help the organization to continue conducting research to find better treatments. Not all medications, psychotherapy, or theoretical frameworks or models are helpful to everyone. A combination or medication and psychotherapy is the most effective, but even knowing which combination of medications or types of therapies can be very difficult to determine. In essence, every person is unique.
Four: we need more spaces for individuals struggling with their symptoms. Simply, this goes back to access of care.
So, this is why I participate. I hope that you can help me to meet my funding goal and in all, help me to help others get the care that they need!